A Causeway Coast and Glens councillor says that we cannot throw our advantage of beating COVID-19 away like a piece of rubbish.
DUP Councillor George Duddy says that more clarification is needed on what constitutes as essential travel. There has already been a marked increase in traffic. He has also claimed that DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots is going against the ‘stay home, stay safe’ guidance that is being highlighted by his own party leader, the NI Assembly and the UK Government.
Councillor Duddy was speaking following a decision by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to reopen civic amenity sites for the disposal of black bin waste earlier this week.
Duddy, voted against the decision, which was passed by 20 votes to 16, and says that he has ‘serious concerns’ for the health and safety of the Council staff operating the sites, and those traveling to the sites, following the decision.
“It is time for everyone to listen to the advice coming from the Health Minister and the Chief Medical Officer. There is no point in us all out clapping for our NHS and our key workers, when we are actively encouraging people to go against the Government advice,” said Cllr Duddy.
“The guidance issued by Minister Poots is very ambiguous in relation to the use of the dumping sites. The decision taken to allow these sites to open was rushed and there was no rational thinking behind it.
“Travelling to an amenity site is not classed as an essential journey. The Minister’s guidance points to safety first, but how can encouraging people to make more journeys be wise at this time.
“I think that the Minister and indeed others on our Council who have made this decision, have become complacent in regards to the seriousness of this virus.
“Death rates are still on the increase, anything that is encouraging people to leave their homes, whether it be to get rid of waste or to visit a garden centre is contrary to what the Government and the NHS have been driving home for weeks – “stay at home.”
Cllr Duddy rubbished claims about an increase in fly tipping in the area as a reason to open the amenity sites. Referring to figures he had received from Council, Cllr Duddy said that they actually showed that there was no increase within the Borough from the start of the lock down period.
“Now is not the right time to ease restrictions,” he said. “We must continue to take the precautions outlined by the Government, now is not the time to be complacent. Just last night I watched two staff from our own Causeway Hospital talking about contracting the virus, they have no idea where they picked it up. I just feel that any attempt to increase journeys will increase the risks of people contracting this lethal indiscriminate virus.”
The DUP member went on to praise the resilience of the Council staff, he said: “They are out there doing a great job in difficult circumstances. Our weekly bin collections have not changed, so I do not see the need for civic amenity sites to be open.
“The decision to open these sites for black bin waste only, I believe is putting, both our staff, and those using the sites at a higher risk.
“All of these issues must be looked at as a matter of urgency. It is not just as simple as opening up a site to allow for waste disposal, there are so many other important matters that we must consider, and these can be the difference between someone catching this deadly virus or not,” said Cllr Duddy.